Supes committee resolution supports 'Occupy SF'

View of an encampment of Occupy San Francisco protest in downtown San Francisco, Wednesday, Oct. 26, 2011. San Francisco officials are warning anti-Wall Street protesters camped out in a city plaza that they face arrest if they continue to stay there around the clock. In a notice distributed on Tuesday, Police Chief Greg Suhr said the protesters in Justin Herman Plaza could be arrested on a variety of sanitation or illegal camping violations although police are not saying when that could occur. (AP Photo/Paul Sakuma)
October 31, 2011 8:30:01 PM PDT
A resolution expressing support for the "Occupy Wall Street" movement and its local counterpart in San Francisco was approved by a Board of Supervisors committee today and will be considered by the full board on Tuesday.

The resolution, introduced last week by Supervisor John Avalos and co-sponsored by Supervisors David Campos, Eric Mar and Jane Kim, offers support for the movement and asks Mayor Ed Lee and San Francisco police to "ensure that there will be no use of force to dislodge the Occupy SF demonstrators."

Protesters with "Occupy SF" camped out at Justin Herman Plaza have been warned by police about possible arrests if they continue to do so, citing public health and safety concerns and a law banning encampment on city property.

Last Wednesday night, Avalos and other supervisors and city officials joined the demonstrators in anticipation of a police raid that never materialized despite a large group of officers gathering nearby.

A day earlier, Oakland Mayor Jean Quan ordered a raid on the encampment in her city, prompting hundreds of protesters to take to the streets.

During the protest Tuesday night, law enforcement officials tried to subdue the crowd by using tear gas and other projectiles, one of which seriously injured an Iraq war veteran, triggering even more protests and the reestablishment of the encampment there.

At today's City Operations and Neighborhood Services committee meeting, supervisors discussed the events of last week and the future of the "Occupy SF" movement while also getting input from members of the public.

Avalos said there have been "very mixed messages" coming out of the mayor's office and Police Department about how to deal with the protesters.

Campos said he disagreed with the tactics taken by Lee and Quan. In San Francisco, tents at Justin Herman Plaza were also removed and five people were arrested during a raid on Oct. 16, although protesters have since reestablished the encampment.

Campos questioned "this notion that it's OK for us to spend the very limited resources we have on police action," saying he'd rather have the city's money go to neighborhood programs instead of overtime for officers to break up the camps.

More than a dozen members of the public also spoke at the meeting, including Gus Feldman, an organizer with Service Employees International Union Local 1021, who said he was happy that the board is considering the resolution.

"I think it's really clear what this resolution does, it calls on the other supervisors and the mayor to really assess how they want to deal with the 'Occupy SF' protest," Feldman said.

He said "no amount of tear gas or rubber bullets is going to displace us," saying the actions in Oakland only served to "invigorate and energize the protest."

Protester Robert Benson, who said he had been camping out with "Occupy SF" since Sept. 17, thanked the supervisors and other city officials for standing in solidarity at the plaza last week, saying he thought it helped prevent a potential raid.

"It makes me proud to be an American when I see the support of our public officials" for the movement, Benson said.

The resolution was eventually approved and sent to the full board for a vote at its meeting Tuesday.

If Lee were to veto the resolution, which is non-binding, the board would need eight votes to overturn it.


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